Workshop by PVG Krishna Sarma on the Aspects of Kuchipudi Yakshaganas 
- Pallavi Kumar, Hyderabad 

November 21, 2006  

A colossal kaleidoscope! That, probably, sums up the proceedings at the two week workshop on the Aspects of Kuchipudi Yakshaganas organized by S N School of Performing Arts, University of Hyderabad. Initially kicked off with an intention of discussing musical aspects of Yakshaganas, the workshop ended up highlighting various technical aspects, much to the delight of the dance students and connoisseurs alike.
P V G Krishna Sarma teaching the students of Central University "Usha Parinayam" Yakshaganam

Take the case of the sessions given by the doyen of Kuchipudi Yakshagana Sampradaya - Pasumarthi Venu Gopala Krishna Sarma. In just those two weeks, this living legend fondly called as PVG has sung, enacted, danced and narrated his way into the hearts of music and dance lovers with a rare touch of class, composure and dexterity. To impart the gamut of knowledge that he has come to embody, PVG chose Usha Parinayam, the story of Usha's wedding to Aniruddha, the most renowned Yakshagana to make known in detail, the technical and musical aspects of Yakshagana tradition. It was such a delight to see him don all the roles in this drama with equal ease and grace.

Guruji threw light on the musical aspects by demonstrating how the music sung for dance has to be different from the kutcheri style as bhava takes more prominence in the former instead of gamakas as found in the latter. Even if gamakas were to be used, he showed how it needs to go hand in hand with the movement of the body. Krishna Shabdam sung by him bears testimony to this and it is his unique rendition of songs that reverberated with bhava that encapsulated the mood of images of the characters in the drama. It is a fact that Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi are interrelated dance styles that originated in south India, sharing common language, poetry, treatises, basic body postures but yet are distinct in the technique - that was vividly explained and demonstrated by guruji.

Such illustrious gurus remind us of the rigours of training they went through that made them legends - which is truly needed in present days. One can debate that dedication, hard work and discipline is somewhat lacking among students today. Well, true but these should be ideally imparted by the guru too, did you say? 

One cannot help but be inspired by the spirit of devotion, dedication and discipline shown by guru PVG. Advancing years may lessen physical dexterity, but they bestow instead a maturity and feel for the art-form imbibed from the journey of a lifetime with the chosen medium. Very little seems sufficient to say much for such artists, and the ornamented flourish of fevered movement and pace become unnecessary. Here minimalism makes strong suggestions without the overt visual concretized statement. Today's dancers might adapt the dancing abilities from their respective gurus but their grace, expression and precision in movements have to be achieved to mesmerize the rasikas. 

Participants unanimously felt that two weeks was too short for a workshop of this kind as there was so much to cover in such a short span of time although the purpose was not to learn the entire yakshagana, which was anyway impossible but to understand the multiple facets of this sampradaya and to get the feel of how it was performed, or rather, how it should be performed. 

This workshop undoubtedly comes as a unique blend of experience, "live" performance and priceless instructions coming from a legend, whose presence is as rare as sighting Venus in daylight. To learn from one of the pioneers of this age-old tradition is a gift beyond imagination by any aspiring dancer. It was apparent at the end of the second week that this dance drama tradition is truly an art by itself.

"Such eminent gurus must pass on the torch to the following generations to keep alive the tradition and continue the legacy of Yakshagana form," remarked quite a few dance pupils in chorus. May their tribe increase! 

Pallavi Kumar is an aspiring Kuchipudi dancer based in Hyderabad with a passion for arts and a vision to be an accomplished dancer.